MAMMOTH LAKES – I once jumped off a chair lift to retrieve a child who had fallen off the chair in front of me, a metaphor for fatherhood, if ever there was one.
Understandably, the ski lift operator was not happy about this course of events. Generally, lift operators prefer that the customers wait till the top of the ski lift to disembark.
But my 4-year-old daughter weighed less than her skis, and her ski suit was made of Teflon. Sffffft, off she went. Everything on a ski hill is so damn slippery – the sidewalks, the clothing, the stupid snow.
To tell the truth, it was kinda fun, plopping 15 feet off the chair lift and into the deep cotton below. I mean, I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone, Like, sane people for instance. Seriously, you sane people should all stay on the lifts.
It’s only parents and superheroes who should fly off a chair lift in hopes of retrieving a tiny redhead who had fallen off the ski lift, plopping like a pine cone in the fluff and coming up –”Dad?! Daaaaaaaaaaaaad?!”
“Sir! Sir, you can’t…” the liftie yelled.
“Yeah, f-you,” I muttered to myself. “I already did.”
Best-case scenario in a situation like that is they kick you off the mountain and ask you, “Please, don’t ever come back here again.”
But they didn’t, damn it. I guess they understood that a dad does what a dad has to do – soccer, scouts, Pinewood Derby, school concerts, birthday parties, science projects, field trips, pre-school signups, emergency rooms. None of it is particularly pleasant, though the symphony as a whole has its merits.
So, it is with a heavy heart that I announce my retirement from the magnificent sport of snow skiing. Coming on the cusp of the winter Olympics, you can just imagine what this does to the Americans’ chances in the downhill.
This sudden retirement follows my ginormous announcement about water skiing two summers ago. The last time I went water skiing, I tore my schnitzel from my shaft to my main jib, across my breast plate, through my wallet and deep into my appendix.
“Well, ouch,” I said calmly at the time.
The bruise on my leg looked like Batman’s PJs.
It was with great reluctance that I announced my retirement from water skiing, probably my best sport. I called a press conference; no one came. I went ahead with it anyway.
“This decision doesn’t come suddenly,” I explained. “I love water skiing more than football. I actually sleep with a football, cradling it like a Teddy Bear. So you know I really, really love football. (see strange video of Chris sleeping with a football).”
What else am I retiring from? Parking garages, never liked them either, never will. From here on out, I’ll park on a side street and hoof it after futzing with the damn parking meter app on my phone, for which I always have to look up the access code.
That I can handle – just another petty digital annoyance. But so long, parking garages. I will no longer swirl down your ramps as if flushed through the gates of hell.
I’d like to also say that I am retiring from LA freeways. They make me kind of jittery, now that the Highway Patrol seems to have completely given up – who can blame them? The daily free-for-all looks like an aerial dogfight over Nord-Pas de Calais.
Also, I can’t swing my head around when I drive, the way I used to back in the day when I was always jumping off chair lifts to retrieve the kids.
Note to young fathers: At some point, kids will just slip away from you, as if down a rabbit hole. There’ll be there, then they won’t. My baby sister once fell off the end of a dock while we helped my dad paint a fishing boat…splash.
Dad went over the side after her, and the Florida barnacles – half of Florida is barnacles – scraped them both up pretty good. Soon, everyone was crying, except Dad, who calmly went back to painting the boat.
That’s just what dads do.
Back then, you were lucky a dad was around. Kids grew up on their own. If you fell, you learned to climb back up in the tree fort, or to get back on the bike. Back then, bathrooms were full of Barney Rubble Band-Aids and hay bales of gauze.
These days, dads are everywhere. Except now, the ski hill will have one fewer dad – me. I just don’t enjoy it so much. My schnitzel doesn’t rotate like it once did, and you can’t really maneuver through the black diamonds without pivoting.
I mean, what do I know about anything? My favorite team is the Washington Generals. My favorite scent? Stale beer.
So, this sudden retirement may be temporary. I change my mind every time I order a drink.
Over the years, the kids and I have skied all over California, 8 different resorts if my count is correct. They paid me back in smiles.
Yet, more and more, when I glide down a ski hill, I hear the raspy sonics of a snowboarder bearing down on me without regard to human life…probably smoking a joint, with a Budweiser in his pocket and taking videos of everything with his cell phone. He’s probably 4, maybe 5.
He can barely walk, but boy can that little weasel snowboard.
And when he crashes into me, my death would be the next big thing on TikTok – for like 11 seconds.
Such a legacy. Eleven seconds, then poof. Gone.
So, I will say so long to this big slippery hill that now costs $240 on Saturdays, and the lines are long, and the TikTokkers are ruining the place.
So long, lost mittens, $75 lunches and barking buttocks.
Snow skiing will maim you financially, if nothing else. A pox on the greedy corporate goons willing to fleece families at the expense of the sport’s future.
Hey Chad, let me tell you a little secret you mighta missed at Harvard Business School: You lose the middle class, you’ve lost the war. Hope your annual bonus is worth the ruin you’ve caused.
Therein lies the problem – corporate bounties on bad behavior.
So, for many reasons, I bid adieu to the wonderful world of skiing, which mostly hurt anyway. Occasionally, almost always, you’d be caught in a whiteout blizzard at the top of Huevos Grande or Hangman’s Hollow, during which you’d question every judgment you ever made, especially spending 2 grand just to take the kids skiing for a couple of days.
Um, honey, have you seen the kids? They were here, then they weren’t. Like my money.
Sure, the views were good. But not that good. In truth, I never skied with much flourish. I skied so that I’d live long enough to say hello to the bartender at Canyon Lodge.
“Man, am I glad to see you,”
In all my years of skiing, the best moment was removing my boots, which was better than sex. Does anyone ever forget their first time removing ski boots?
Seriously, I’d rather be tied to a horse and dragged through the Century City Mall than to put on one more pair of rental ski boots.
Farewell, you painful, overpriced sport. So long, 45-minute lift lines. So long clunky walks to the restroom, where you had to peel off four layers of clothing just to pee.
Hello Bishop, where Schat’s still makes the best breads ever, out of a faux Bavarian bakery. Or is it Dutch? Who cares.
A stop at Schat’s was always the best part of a ski trip anyway.
Gimme some of your famed sheepherders bread, or the Holland Crunch Coffee Cake, 8 bucks a pop.
That’s my warming hut now – this bakery, soft and buttery. No chair lifts. Not a one.
The copies of “Surviving Suburbia” are going out today and Thursday. Thanks again. Been fun connecting with people. We may have a few leftovers. I’ll let you know. And there are other boxes of books in the basement. I’d rather they be on your shelves. More info on the way. Meanwhile, please check out ChrisErskineLA.com/shop/ for current books. An excerpt from “Lavender in Your Lemonade”: “Of all my captors, I love White Fang the best. As you know, she was born in a whisky barrel in an old mining camp. My wife Posh won her in a poker game, before realizing, “Hey, this dog’s a wolf!”